Thursday, 28 February 2019

"And the winner is........"

Awards ceremonies seem to be the order of the day from autumn through to spring and as business owners, we can use awards as an ideal way for businesses to get wider recognition - even if you don't actually win.

Recently I helped represent Glide Media at the South West Tourism Awards, held at the Aerospace Bristol museum, sitting under the magnificent and beautiful Concorde 216. This regional event awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold awards to tourism businesses in a range of categories.

Attending the black tie evening event were the nominees of course, but there were plenty of additional non-tourism businesses also, either as award sponsors or because they provided services for the nominees.

There were over 100 awards in total given out over the evening, so that's around a hundred business that were being showcased to a few hundred attendees on the night, but then showcased again in the follow up PR after the event.

As a resident of Gloucestershire I was disappointed that there were so few Gloucestershire nominees, but I couldn't tell if it was because businesses had not entered or were judged not to be of award standard. I suspect the former as we have some brilliant tourism offers in Gloucestershire and the surrounding area.

However, it does highlight that if as a business you have the opportunity to enter for awards, you should. Certainly many awards are now self nominating, or if not you can ask your clients to nominate you. Then you are on your way to gaining more market exposure.

You need to choose carefully what awards you want to go for. Some schemes have a fee for participation, but there are plenty that do not charge. Perhaps start aiming for local or regional awards that are relevant to your line of work, then you can branch out nationally.

What else can you gain from awards? Attending the ceremony gives you a chance to network with like minded people, other businesses and suppliers - even perhaps some friendly rivalry with your competitors! Swap business cards, meet new people, showcase your business, then you can sit down, have a drink and listen to the compere.

But then you win. What happens next? For a start, in addition to any PR or media coverage the award event generates you can boost this with your own efforts. Update your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds. You can do this on the night with a smartphone, building tension with a "will we, won't we win" narrative. If you win, you get the scoop. If you don't win, never mind, tag and praise the winners in your posts. They will probably thank you online and then you will can get further mileage from your own social media post.

Usually awards come with some form of online badge which you can share through social media and put prominently on your website. These are the sort of things we marketeers really enjoy playing with and gaining as much mileage as possible for the lifetime of the award for our clients.

Remember, marketing is creating awareness of your products and services and their benefits. Awards recognise, quality, achievements or a Unique Selling Point (USP), and as they are run by a third party you can really ramp up the bragging rights on being nominated or winning, without worrying about being unduly modest.

So try entering for some awards. Hopefully you'll win as well as getting some great media exposure!

If you'd like help in marketing and promoting your business, why not drop Copper Phoenix a line ?

Friday, 1 February 2019

Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

Copper Phoenix is approaching its 10th anniversary and it was high time to update the website which had become a little unused and unloved due to long term contracts taking up my work time.

The fact I had long term contracts is no excuse to have a slightly dated website and it was with some quiet internal embarrassment I was advising clients that they needed to update their own websites, make sure they are mobile compliant and ideally have an HTTPS security certificate etc, when I knew I was not practising what I preached.

So, it was time to head back to my web designer Andrew Eberlin at Brighter Side for a revamp and after the always efficient and courteous service from Andrew, the new Copper Phoenix website is now launched.

Thinking back over the 10 years to when I first started my business made me realise how some technology has changed but that starting out in a new business venture will still require some basic tech savvy to get started and stay safe. Or if you don't think you know, you at least know who to ask about it.

Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know at start up:

Protect your data

This may seem obvious, but business owners may not think about it until they can no longer retrieve missing data. There’s not necessarily a fully running IT Department who can get you out of the fix. You will have invested your time and money in getting started so you need to protect your data from bugs, viruses and anyone else who may find your data useful to them.

The simplest way is to back your data up to the Cloud, so you can retrieve it should you need to on to alternative devices. This is best if your laptop or tablet go “bang” and you have to start with new equipment (or you forget to take it to that vital client meeting…). 

Make sure your devices are encrypted or password protected too, with a decent password that isn’t easily guessed, using upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

Another option is to back up data to an external hard drive or memory sticks but that means the backup data is only available in one place, unlike the Cloud option.

Make sure your website is HTTPS

HTTPS websites are more secure, and will add an extra layer of security, especially if you are selling anything online. They are trusted by both search engines and customers, as more people recognise the additional security level in this post GDPR world.

Google prioritises HTTPS websites over the older HTTP websites in its search algorithms, so you may be missing out on SEO by not being HTTPS and therefore not being found by your prospective clients.

Your web developer will know more about this (and far more than me) so ask them how to get the best security for your important “window on the world”.

Be smart with your smartphone

As well as being a telephone our smartphones contain vast amounts of data. Sometimes your smartphone can double as your laptop for retrieving and sending information or even showing presentations.
Take steps to ensure this is protected with strong passwords and all apps that contain sensitive data are protected too.

Should your smartphone be lost or stolen make sure you have systems in place to manage the risk of data or personal information being lost. Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is available to help businesses manage the security of their mobile IT and business equipment.

Avoid public WiFi

Like many small businesses I have spent a lot of time in coffee shops in between meetings or when out and about, as they are great places to meet, network or get a sugar/caffeine hit. It is tempting to use the often free public WiFi for emails and other work related online activities but these networks are rarely secure, so be warned.

If you are sending/receiving any sensitive data then consider using your mobile phone tethered to your laptop to get a secure internet connection, even if it means using your mobile data.

Email – help a Nigerian prince smuggle his millions of dollars.

I think most of us will recognise this type of scam. The badly worded email, the amazing rewards for helping the “prince” out, most of us will be able to recognise this for what it is and avoid.

But some emails are craftier, some even seem to come from colleagues or suppliers with attachments.

Be careful. If you think you recognise an email by sender, just check the email address is the one you are expecting to see, check that their grammar/writing style is consistent with their usual emails and that messages are not too short and vague. These could be Impersonation emails and sent with ill intent.

If you have any doubts ring before opening or clicking on anything, especially when you are asked for money or to pay an urgent invoice. It may be that your supplier was rushing to catch a train and sent a disjointed email via their smartphone at speed, or it could be malware or ransomware.

In my first 10 years with Copper Phoenix I have been lucky in not having much go wrong with my IT; email possibly hacked once (changed password and upped security), laptop going pop before a presentation.

Get good understanding of the IT basics and good support from IT professionals - then you can concentrate on running and growing your business.

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